Despite the subtle sounds of Spring beginning to blossom outside, in a star-studded auditorium in the Tennis Club de Paris, autumn was already in full swing as the fashion world gathered to catch a glimpse at the Loewe Fall/Winter collection. Anna Wintour, Kaya Scodelario, Miss Fame and Kiernan Shipka were amongst the masses perched eagerly to see the man responsible for turning Loewe from a once conservative footnote in European luxury fashion into an innovative hero of haute culture, Creative Director Jonathan Anderson.
Straight out of the gate it was clear Anderson was going to be as playful with his presentation style as we have come to expect him to be. Back-to-back ‘car-dresses’ rolled down the runway in quick succession to not cause any traffic, sending expectations souring for an Emerald City style exhibition of wonderfully wacky and confusing couture designs. However, no such show materialised. As more models emerged, the designs became more grounded in the quality craftsmanship and chic cuts and colour combinations that have come to define Loewe. Tartan trousers reminiscent of early 90s punk culture, oversized double-breasted coats and tailored Peacoat jackets added an alternative edge to the collection that felt needed amongst more abstract designs.
Creative inspiration is always hard to pinpoint, particularly when dealing with the acute genius of a designer like Anderson. Nonetheless, amongst a sea of other muses, it seems the fur-collared clothing of the Inuit tribes of Alaska & The Arctic formed somewhat of a bedrock that underpinned a lot of the collection’s ‘caveman chic’ approach. Asymmetric cut trousers with full wrap-around fur waistbands, heavy woolen sleeveless dresses and huge oversized fur-lined trench coats all created a fiercely defined arctic inspired template.
Looking at the Loewe FW22 collection in its entirety, it can be summarised with one pithy phrase: “Contrast Is King”. Perhaps this can be seen most clearly in the sheer juxtaposition between rigid form-fitting leather dresses and wide heavy shoulder padding, with loose drawstring high-top moccasin-style shoes. Similarly in the staging, a muted burnt-brown base created a warming aesthetic that gracefully challenged the bombastic boldness of numerous designs. Every detail down to the music selection, a simple yet elegant panning between heavy techno and classical music scores, created a heightened degree of tension that matched the anticipation aesthetic of Anderson’s balloon inspired dresses.
Lastly, although attention will justly go to the more intentionally bizarre and referential ensembles, it’s Anderson’s ability to have fun with his designs and to incorporate elements of abstract kitchness into his collection that sets him apart. Silhouettes of painted red hands stamped across the chest of an otherwise simple dress, bold pop-art style lip designs and tongue-in-cheek cape designs (reminiscent of novelty cooking aprons that replace the wearer’s body with that of a bikini-clad girl of buff beachgoers ) – all added a zestful infusion of fun into an otherwise sleek showing.
Loewe’s legacy as the premier purveyors of luxury leather continues to be in safe hands with Anderson as he ultimately crafted a forward-thinking collection that seemingly looked backwards on nearly 200 years of brand heritage for the FW22 collection. Although I can’t see the car dress catching on anytime soon, contrasting leather and fur textures, bold whimsy through fantastical abstract patterns, and a pinch of punk tartan tailoring are all undoubtedly going to be standouts this winter.
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